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Today's Maynia Prompt: garbage
Today's Daily Freewrite Prompt: egg salad
Writers can choose to use one of the prompts, both the prompts or not use the prompt at all. It is all up to you!
I wish to make this into a sci-fi novel. Let's see how it progresses! 😊
Half-Past Eight - Day 23
The old one can be seen from Day 22. You can read it here.
Chapter 1: Half an Hour Saga
Time: 9:00 a.m.
Day: Day 0
"Carol baby, I am out," Norman rushed out of the bathroom and ran towards the bedroom with a towel wrapped around his waist. He got inside the room and looked for Caroline, his wife, but she was not there. He was wondering where she could have gone, especially since just about a minute back, she was screaming at the top of her voice, asking Norman to take a bath and come out. The reason, of course, was to bathe Jerome, their three-year-old son. Now, there was just silence. Norman went about getting dressed since he was going to be late for office.
"Honey, take Jerome for a bath." Again there was no answer. Norman thought Caroline must have gone to the neighbour's place, maybe. So, he continued getting dressed.
"Okay, I was made to hurry for no reason looks like," Norman called out again. No response, once more. "Jerome." No response. Norman thought Jerome wouldn't have got up yet and he had to wake him up too. He was getting a bit irritated at Caroline. 'What was the reason to rush me, when things were not ready around?' He thought. Since he had to do the work of waking up Jerome, he thought it would be a good idea to let the office know that he would be about 15- 20 minutes late. Thankfully for Norman, there was no meeting scheduled that day. Any other day and he would have had to say bye and get out. Then again, any other day, he wouldn't have woken up late in the first place. He took his iPhone X, one of his many prized possessions, and started dialling his secretary's landline number. It didn't work. He then saw that the mobile network was down.
"Damn. When I am in a hurry nothing seems to work," Norman said. "Carol, are you listening?" Norman then got to the front room and picked up his landline and started dialling only to realize that there was no dialer tone. Even the landline was down. Now he was getting a bit irritated.
'Cool down Norm. These are the easiest and smallest things in life. Cool down, and you can handle it easily,' Norman thought to himself. These were words he had written down for himself, which he had learned from a behavioural trainer when he had first joined McKinsey as a fresher.
Norman was dressed up and walked to get the comb in front of the dressing table, in Jerome's room. He entered the room and found that Jerome was not there.
'Jerome is already up. Silly me! Unnecessarily getting wild on Carol,' Norman thought. He combed his hair and came out of the room. He tried dialling his secretary one last time, just in case, but no luck. He realized he did not have to call her anyways because Jerome was up and he was already taken care of, so he just had to leave. He will be on time. Norman took his black leather laptop bag and called out to his driver who usually sat in the front room, waiting to carry Norman's bag when he was ready. Norman realized that even Bahadur was not there since he had just gone to the front room to make a call from the landline.
'What the hell is wrong with everyone' he thought to himself. He came to his balcony and yelled out to Bahadur from the top. There was no response. Again.
He hoped that the security guard would see him and gesture to Bahadur if he was in the car. No luck there either, in fact, the security guy was missing too. He noticed an unusual calm everywhere. No kids, no horns, no dogs barking, everything was eerily silent. He, however, did not take it seriously. He thought he'd better walk down himself and get on with things.
"Carol, I am leaving." By now, he was expecting no response, and that was what he got. This time Norm lost his cool. "Is everyone deaf around here?" It was not a language he would generally use to address his wife, even sarcastically; however, he chose to break the norms to get a response. There was only silence. He was fuming and rushed to the bathroom door and pushed it open.
"At least respond when someone is ca……." There was no one there.
'What is this? Where are Jerome and Carol?' Norman thought to himself. Now he was growing concerned. Anger gave way to worry. He walked out of the house and saw that they were not there. He rang his neighbour's bell, the one where Jerome liked to hang out with his friend Jonal. The door was taking unusually long to open. He waited another minute and then frantically rang their bell while calling out.
"Mr Ajay. Jerome." No response again. He knocked the other neighbor's house too and the same outcome. He was growing tired more than angry now. He rushed down the stairs from his fifth-floor apartment. There was no security, no kids, no Bahadur, no dogs, no soul. He was worried, frightened and anxious now.
"Is there someone here?" he yelled. Again the now-familiar response - silence. Everyone seemed to have vanished.
Half an hour back
Time: 8:30 a.m.
Day: Thursday, 21st February 2013
"Norm get up. Get up," Caroline the early bird had already risen and completed many of the chores before waking her beloved husband, Norman.
"Come on, at least some days, let me sleep a tad longer," Norman protested.
"You can do that when your son has a holiday too, not otherwise. Now get up and get ready, so that I can wake up Jerome and have him dressed up. It's already 8:30 Norm," Caroline was walking, talking and polishing her own shoes at the same time. Being a working mom is not an easy job, especially when your husband behaves like a second child; once in a while.
"Can somebody ask that stupid dog to shut up," Norman was getting irritated at his neighbour's German Shepherd barking non-stop, since the time he came out of his sleep. "Get that dog neutered, someone," Norman yelled. Caroline started laughing.
"Getting a dog neutered is not going to stop it from barking," Caroline said.
"This shows that you are still in your sleep. Get up lazy."
"Oh, man! Just when I thought I could go late to office, my wife doesn't let me sleep and that German Shepherd doesn't let me live." Norman got up grumbling. Caroline was in the kitchen cooking. She got a cup of tea for Norman, and when Norman passed her, she gave him the cup.
"Sorry, darl! No bed tea today," Caroline said.
"No problem," Norman sat in the front room and took his favourite paper, 'Times of India'. He was reading the newspaper and sipping his tea.
"Carol, you are the best when it comes to making tea," Norman said.
"Only tea?" Caroline asked.
"No, I mean, everything, but tea is the first thing in the morning, isn't it?"
"Your response gets 1 out of 10. You have lost your touch, since college days," Caroline smiled and walked to the kitchen again. Norman had met Caroline first when he was doing his Masters in Business Administration from Mumbai University. She had a black curly long hair, dark brown eyes and an olive complexion. A round and photogenic face. Although it was six years since they got married and now had a son, who was three years old, Caroline still looked the same. She was not ageing at all and that too when Norman had a paunch now. From having an athletic build and eight packs to a paunch, was a slow slide for Norman. However, nothing of that sort with Caroline.
"Somebody make that stupid dog stop," Norman was losing his cool.
"It will help if you got into the bathroom. You will not hear it then," suggested Caroline, of course, taking down two birds with one stone.
"Smarty skirt," Norman called out.
"Even your well-natured one-liners have become average. You seriously have to get in touch with your early days, Norman," Caroline smiled once again.
"Is it me or is it that you are scoring point after point against me? Maybe I have not got up completely," Norman said.
"Even at your peak, you are not a match at all," Caroline said.
"There you go again," Norman said. "I think this is just not my day." Unknown to him that line would come to haunt him.
"Jerome, Jerome! Come on baby time for school," Caroline called out.
"What's going on here? A three-year-old has to go to school, so early in the morning?" Give him a break," Norman protested on Jerome's behalf.
"Hello Sir, the world will pass him if we give him a break! And what about the other three-year-olds who are going to school too?"
"Okay, okay, today I don't think I am going to win an argument," Norman said and walked towards the bathroom. Caroline did not say anything. "But then what's the point in winning an argument when I have already won the lady?"
"Oh my, you are making a comeback Norm! Good job. Keep going, and we may have exciting stuff to do at night," Caroline said. Norman laughed.
"Why wait till night? Why not now?"
"That's because your son has to go to school, you have to be in the office, and I have an important client meeting. That's why?" Caroline said.
"Okay, alright I get the point. Get gone, Norman!" Norman said and got into the bathroom.
"Jerry baby! Wake up now."
Norman was gone for almost ten minutes, and Caroline had knocked on the door twice, already.
"Norm, its five minutes to nine. How much more time?"
"Coming, coming. Two minutes," Norman said.
"Jerry will get late for school," Caroline protested.
"Okay coming, just two minutes. If you keep talking it may take an additional two minutes." A logic of Norman which Caroline never understood. "Why don't you just brush her teeth and I will be out?" Norman said.
"Okay but fast," Caroline said.
Norman once again went back to his peaceful time in the bathroom, the kind where no one disturbs when personal matters are being handled. He then put on the shower and applied soap on himself.
"Oh no! The electricity is gone," Norman yelled.
"Norm, what do I do for the geyser now?" Caroline did not sound happy.
"No problem, I have some hot water here which you can use for Jerome," Norman said.
"Jerrrry!" Caroline yelled with a bit of distress. Norman heard that, and he wiped the soap lather from over his eyes. He was all ears on Caroline's next words. If Caroline called out Jerry's name again with concern, then something must have happened to Jerome, whereas if it was just shouting out instructions after calling out, then Caroline was just having him do something. Neither happened though. Caroline did not call out or shout out instructions. So, it was just one of those days when you think that someone is in distress. Norman went about his bath and humming his favourite song, only a little faster because Jerome was getting late. He was happy though that Caroline was not banging on the door anymore.
At precisely 9:00 a.m., he got out of the bathroom.
"Carol baby, I am out,"
Time: 10:00 a.m.
Date: 27th February 2015
Norman was perplexed. He was gone for fifteen minutes to the bathroom, and his family and neighbours were all gone; nowhere to be seen. Maybe this was a practical joke, he thought. Years ago, he had watched a practical joke on television where a college kid was invited to a restaurant by his friend for his surprise birthday treat while the camera was rolling. They ate, had fun and asked the birthday boy to go to the restroom so that they could get his surprise gift out. When the boy went in and came out, all the friends were gone with a bill on the table. Obviously, running into a few thousand bucks. The boy was stunned, and he started protesting and swearing when all of them came back in and shouted – 'Surprise'. The boy was definitely cross at them, but then it all ended with a good laugh. Norman was hoping that something similar was going to happen. He seriously calmed himself and hoped that someone with a rolling camera is going to come out soon. He knew he should see them all in no time. Nothing, though happened.
Norman realized that even if it was a surprise, there was no reason for this kind of joke. It was neither his birthday nor anyone else's at home. He was losing his temper with every passing minute, and it was already an hour since he came out of the bathroom. He was so angry that he thought he would slap all those involved whenever they came out. Norman went to the bench in his complex and sat. He looked at his phone again, and it was still not showing connectivity. He was wild. It was better for the others not to come out at all, he thought—an exceptionally wrong wish.
Image Courtesy: Pixabay